Many kids fantasize about how much fun they’d have if left to their own devices. The closest most ever get to this idyllic state, though, is the University of Florida or the nearest equivalent. Not so in Jack White’s latest video.
“Sixteen Saltines” sees the former White Stripe trapped in a world somewhere between The Lord of the Flies and Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island. It is a place where children and teenagers run wild and do whatever they want, which includes acting out on violent and apparently even homicidal impulses. The video’s star sits out most of the carnage, bound by rope, waiting for an impending moment of judgment. We viewers bear witness to all the anarchic action, though.
Like many compelling pieces of art, it prompts the question of what, if any, “meaning” the creator intended with the story and images. Here, director AG Rojas from Caviar Content explains it: “It’s about how awkwardly beautiful it is to be young, even if you don’t always realize it at the time.”
Rojas elaborates: “I wanted to create a video that forced you to revisit it a few times in order to grasp all the little details. Each vignette tells its own story, some resolving themselves in two or three shots; some being more abstract.”
Indeed, there is a lot to take in during the less than three-minute runtime of “Sixteen Saltines.” In addition to the fate of Jack White, the lone adult to be found anywhere in the video, there’s a cavalcade of kids to follow around, all engaged in various mysterious misdeeds. Whose severed finger is lying on the playground? Will that kid asphyxiating himself succeed? Is that tattoo being applied voluntarily? The insubordination even extends to the laws of physics: One boy refuses to obey gravity.
“The video is just my reaction to the energy and paranoia of the track,” Rojas says. “Some people are calling it ‘bizarre’ or ‘disturbing,’ but it actually seems like a fun world to live in to me.”